Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who had launched a failed coup against Russian president Vladimir Putin in June, has been reportedly killed in a plane crash.
Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet that crashed on Wednesday evening north of Moscow with no survivors, the Russian authorities said.
Russia’s emergency situations ministry said in a statement that a private Embraer Legacy aircraft travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg had crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver Region.
It said that 10 people had been on board, including three crew members. According to preliminary information, everyone on board had been killed, it said.
Prigozhin, 62, spearheaded a mutiny against Russia’s top army brass on June 23-24 which President Vladimir Putin said could have tipped Russia into civil war.
On June 24, the head of the Wagner mercenary group said he had crossed into Russia with his forces to topple Moscow’s military leadership, saying he and his 25,000 fighters were “ready to die”.
“All of us are ready to die. All 25,000, and then another 25,000,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, 62, said in an audio message, after earlier accusing the Russian top brass of launching strikes against his men.
The mutiny was ended by negotiations and an apparent Kremlin deal which saw Prigozhin agree to relocate to neighbouring Belarus. But he had appeared to move freely inside Russia after the deal nonetheless.
It is pertinent to mention here that Russian President Vladimir Putin had termed the “armed mutiny” by the Wagner Group mercenary force as treason, and anyone who had taken up arms against the Russian military would be punished.
He said he would do everything to protect Russia, and that “decisive action” would be taken to stabilise the situation in Rostov-on-Don, a southern city where Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his forces had taken control of all military installations.